(3) First Interview

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The first interview will consist of:

  1. An advocacy exercise (7.5 minutes per candidate) in which each candidate will make submissions on one side (to be randomly allocated) of a series of non-legal topics (such as, “Should prisoners have the vote” or “Should policemen sit on juries”). Each candidate will have approximately 5 minutes to make submissions and 2-3 minutes for any questions from the first interview panel. You will be provided with the topic 10 minutes before your interview and will be given a quiet room in which to prepare your submissions. You can make notes in this time which can be taken into the interview.  The topics are chosen so as not to be a test of your legal or general knowledge.  The exercise will also not be assessed as a formal debate.  The focus is on your ability to make clear, articulate and structured arguments and respond to opposing arguments or questions from the interview panel, as set out in our Oral Advocacy Selection Criterion.
  2. Structured questions taken from a pre-agreed standardised list (7.5 minutes), which are linked to information you have provided on your application form. This list of questions is not provided to candidates.

The Interview Panel for First Interview will have available to it a copy of each candidate’s application form, with the sections on “Education,” “Positions of responsibility,” “Prizes and awards” and “References” redacted.  The application form will be used solely to assist the interview panel in asking questions and will not be taken into account in providing marks or selecting for second round interview.  The redactions are aimed at eliminating information which has either already been marked as part of the process or which is irrelevant to this stage.

The aim of the first interview is to provide a friendly environment in which you are given the best opportunity to succeed. For example, if you misunderstand or are stuck on a particular question, the interview panel will aim to ask clarifying or redirecting questions to assist you, and you will still be able to obtain the highest marks from your follow up answers.

A lead interviewer will be allocated for each candidate, and the lead interviewer will ask you most of the questions. Other members of the panel may still ask questions.

In the letter inviting you to first interview, you will get a fuller explanation of the procedure for the first interview and information about what to do on the day.  If we have to carry out the interviews virtually, you will be given full instructions on platform, etc.  We will also tell you the names of your panel.

You will be invited to contact a named member of the Pupillage Committee if you have a disability and require reasonable adjustments to be made.

Who is on the panel for the First Interview?

The interview panel will normally comprise three members of chambers, with at least one KC and two members of the Pupillage Committee.  It will be gender balanced as far as possible.

The interview panel will also include an external specialist in diversity and inclusion (i.e. an individual who is not a member of chambers). The external specialist’s marks will not be taken into account in selecting for second interview. The role of the external specialist will be to check that the Interview Panel is applying the mark scheme correctly and fairly.

In 2023, to accommodate the increased number of applicants reaching first round interview, we will be running be two simultaneous interview panels. The interview panels will include Lucy Garrett KC, Adrian Williamson KC, Charlie Banner KC. Brenna Conroy, Tom Owen and Charlie Thompson. Candidates will be informed of their panel members ahead of the interview.

What is the date for the First Interview in the 2023 round?

The date of the First Interview is Wednesday 5 April 2023.

How do you mark the First Interview?

The Mark Scheme against each of the applicable Selection Criteria for the First Interview, and some additional specific guidance, is available as a download here: First Interview Mark Scheme. We reviewed this mark scheme for the 2023 application round and made some small revisions including to the definitions of working in teams and oral advocacy.

The interview panel will mark candidates solely by reference to their performance in the first interview and will not have access to (either during the interview, in providing marks or selecting for the second interview) the candidate’s written case studies or their scores in previous rounds.

How do you select the candidates who go through to the Second Interview?

The total of each member of the panel’s marks against each criterion or part criterion for each candidate will be used in selecting for Second Interview.

The following decision making rule will be applied (on the assumption that the Interview Panel consisted of 3 members of Chambers[1]):  If two or more members of the Interview Panel have marked a candidate as  “Weak” against any single criterion, that candidate will not be selected.

The top 12 candidates  with the highest scores and meeting the above decision-making rule will be selected for second interview, subject only to:

  1. The first interview panel’s discretion to select fewer candidates subject to a minimum of the top 10 candidates.
  2. Candidates up to and including 16th place if considered appropriate by reference to their RARE flags. The most senior member of the Interview Panel (only) will be provided with the candidates’ RARE flag information (if any) for this purpose.
  3. The first interview panel’s discretion to offer a second interview to the candidates in 13th and/or 14th place, up to a maximum of the top 14 candidates, for example where the marking at that level is very close or in other similar circumstances.

Those who have not been selected for second interview shall be informed promptly. Unfortunately, due to the number of applications we receive, we cannot give reasons for rejection or feedback on individual applications.  Candidates will be informed of our policy regarding second or subsequent applications (ie that it is necessary to show a material change of circumstances for your application to be considered again).

[1] If not, the Interview Panel will agree appropriately adjusted marks before any interviews take place.